Category Archives: Archived

A Recall Notice

This ‘notice’ has been posted around the internet before but having it come back around recently just brought to my mind just how important its point is on why we need Jesus, why sin is such a big deal and why we can’t just get by with it. 

The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed “Sub-sequential Internal Non-Morality,” or more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed.

Some of the symptoms include:

1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect.
The Repair Technician, JESUS, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required.

The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.

Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.

No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control

Please see the operating manual, the HOLY (He Only Left You) BIBLE (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, call on Jesus.

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility. Thank you for your attention!

– GOD

P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying other of this important recall notice and you may contact the Father anytime by ‘knee mail’!
BECAUSE HE LIVES!!!

Been There…

Have you ever seen that T-shirt that reads:  “My parents went to California and all I got was this T-shirt?”

Well friends, Jesus came to Earth….and we get way more than a T-shirt!

Maps show us where some one else has already been, right?

Warning signs keep us on the right road…….

The need for road maps has become clearer to me in recent years…..like when my wife and I became lost once, because I thought I knew the way…..I have to admit that I was the only one really lost!

Maps are only good to us if we read them right?  Warnings only work if we believe them, right? If a sign warns us of a washed out road ahead….the sign would do us no good if we didn’t believe and accept what it says with the faith that there is really a washed out road ahead!

Jesus’s sacrifice means nothing to us unless we are willing to surrender to God by accepting and believing that what he has done is enough!

How about this warning within a promise……

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.  .John 3:36

Here are a few things that come to my mind that Jesus has already experienced…..

Pain  –  Suffering – Humiliation  – Lust – Betrayal  –  Loneliness –  Degradation  – Hunger  – Temptation  –  Storms  –  Homelessness  – Taxes  – Death

Jesus gave his life……..  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.………..”  Isaiah 53:4-5

All we have to do is believe Jesus died for us and accept that he did all that was required and believe that he has the power and loves us so much that we can take him at his word and bring him anything that we are experiencing and lay it at his feet and know that he will carry our burdens for us!

So, all we need to do is come to Jesus, after all……he’s already been there ahead of us!

 

Here is a song to go with the post if you would like to use it:

 

Visit Mark at Planting Potatoes.

When in doubt….plant potatoes!

Regan’s ‘A Time For Choosing’

Just in time for our latest historical election, below are two video links from Ronald Regan’s famous ‘ A Time For Choosing’ speech in 1964.

Though nearly 50 years old now, his words still strike a cord with how close our country stands on the brink of losing all we have come to hold dear. 

No matter how this election turns out, our Lord still reins and He still calls us to 1 Tim 2:1-4….

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Let The Children Come

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

As Jesus said above, let the children come. I believe He also meant for them to be born…and so does the Brown family.

Watch this inspiring video about their incredible daughter, Pearl, and her daily challenges to beat the ‘odds’ the doctors gave her before birth.

Also, visit the family website at Pearl Joy Brown to follow their journey of faith in their baby girl and in Jesus!

Video: please specify correct url

 

The Purpose Of Practice

What is the purpose of practice?   Practice means you haven’t mastered something yet, but are working on it.  Here’s a simple definition from the dictionary,

Practice-  repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency. 

It’s the work we do so it doesn’t look like it took any effort at all to do it.  It’s mastery of a skill.  Archers shoot hundreds of arrows at a target until they are able to hit the center with precision.  Gymnasts practice hours each day to make impossible feats of gymnastics seem effortless.

Practice makes a hack at the piano a master musician who draws thousands to hear him play.  When we say, “I wish I could do that.”  He would reply, “You can if you practice eight hours a day for about 20 years.”  Practice.  It’s the disciple we use to master something and become proficient at it.

My wife recently had surgery.  She didn’t look for a doctor who was new to this type of surgery. She looked for someone who had done thousands of them.  Why?  His practice had made him a master at this difficult procedure.

You get the idea, don’t you, but I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m going with all this.  I’m setting the stage for these amazing and often overlooked words from Jesus,

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”  -Jesus, Matthew 6

What he didn’t say is “don’t practice…”  He said be careful how and where you practice.  Then, for the rest of the chapter he deals with the things he wants any disciple to master by practice- prayer, giving, fasting, etc. What we often miss in the words of Jesus is this- you will be practicing these things to master them, just be careful where and how you do it.

Today some are revisiting the very idea of practice and it has many confused.  What this whole discussion is about is simply this- sanctification.  All of these things Jesus talks about in Matthew 6 are simply the disciplines of sanctification.  They are things we do to grow into Christlikeness.  And, clearly Jesus knew we needed practice so he gives us guidance to perfect our practice.

What’s the goal?  Hebrews 10:14-  “He has made perfect forever those who are becoming holy.”  The goal of practice is to become like the one who has saved us.  It’s the practice of perfecting godliness (2 Cor. 7:1)  and doing it intentionally that produces Christlikeness.*  Then, one day, after all your practice, you will hear these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

*A comment that will arise is this- “But what about the Holy Spirit’s work in us. You left that out.”  Yes, I left it out for brevity. I am very aware that godliness and Christlikeness must happen as the Holy Spirit works in us and with us, but for brevity and focus on the topic I left this portion of sanctification for another day.

Whatever The Day May Bring

Whatever your day has brought you – PRAISE HIM!

If it brought you sun, praise HIM – If it brought you rain, praise HIM

If it brought you a bonus, praise HIM – If it brought you an unemployment check, praise HIM

If it brought you a new car, praise HIM – If it brought you news you need a new motor, praise HIM

If it brought you warm hugs and kisses, praise Him – If it brought you despair and grief, praise HIM

If it brought you a trip to your favorite place, praise HIM – If it brought you to the hospital or doctor office, Praise HIM

If it brought you gladness and smiles, praise HIM – If it brought you tears and sorrow, praise HIM

If it brought you peace and harmony, praise HIM – If it brought you uncertainty and fighting, praise HIM

If it brought you encouragement and direction, praise HIM – If it brought you discouragement and road blocks, praise HIM

If it brought you good news of promotion or healing, praise Him – If it brought you heartbreaking news or disease, praise HIM

If it brought you smiles and laughter, praise HIM – If it brought you anger and yelling, praise Him

Whatever this day has brought you, place your hope in the Lord and simply praise HIM

 

Psalm 9:2
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

 

 

Psalm 34:1
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

 

Marie Wikle the Founder and President of Spreading Joy Corporation wants to empower everyone to make a difference and give without guilt.

Here is a personal Warm Welcome to Spreading Joy. You’ll find links to interviews, no cost ways to make a difference and other things that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your heart.

 

We want to rise above the discouragement of high prices, the obstacle of dead ends and the disappointment of our comfort zone. We want to be the change that is so desperately needed.

Blessed

Are there days when you feel “blessed”?  Days when the sun is shining and all is right with your world?  We all have had that sense that the sun is shining on us and God likes us.  I know that feeling as well as most, but today was a day when you might not use that word to describe my day.
I wonder why we think this word “blessed” only applies when things are going well, when all is right with our lives and world?  If the word “blessing” only applies when things are good then what word would you use to describe your life when things are not so good?  Does “cursed” describe the other pole in this discussion?
Do you consider yourself blessed?  Do you only think that when you win the lottery, when you get that raise, when the tornado misses your house, when you kids get scholarships to college, when you’re in the 50% that didn’t get laid off from work?
Let me frame these questions in a different way- do our circumstances determine whether we are blessed or not?  And, what does “blessed” really mean in a fickle world like this anyway?
This whole discussion was the theme of the book of Job.  It was a hotly debated topic for Job’s friends.  Job must have done something wrong because God is not “blessing him” any longer (their words, not mine), but what if blessing has nothing to do with our situation, our circumstances?  What if it isn’t about good things OR bad?  I’m asking a lot of questions here on purpose.  I’m trying to unpack this myself as I reflect on the day.
No one would look at my day and called me “blessed” but I am, and it had nothing to do with good things OR bad.  It has everything to do with who I am in relationship with.  The idea of being blessed is woven into the very idea of knowing God.  It’s a relationship that generates this word as commentary of a life….even when the tornado does hit my house, the car breaks down, the dog dies, I get laid off and lose everything.
You see being blessed is all about who you know not how the day went or what you have.  I think we miss this too easily, I know I do, but this afternoon as I watched a nurse interact with my wife and I and heard her say (not is these exact words) “Boy are you guys blessed!”  I knew in that commentary from a nurse I didn’t know that she saw in us the blessing of knowing God (and it sure wasn’t because of how the day went!)
Today and every day, good days and bad, I am blessed, and so are you, because we know God.  That’s what “blessed” really means.

Where Is Goodness & Joy?

Where is GoodnessThe other day I was talking with a friend that I had not talked to in a while. Knowing that she had been through a deep, horrible loss with the death of her beloved brother, I emailed her to let her know I was thinking of her and praying for her.

Through a series of emails, she made a statement to me that many of us often forget when the pain is overwhelming and the darkness has consumed our days.

She said:

“Goodness does still exist here, you just have to look real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real hard.”

Here, among many other things, is what I shared with her.

“Goodness is still here. The negative overshadows it. Hurt covers it. Pain hides it. Uncover the goodness!”

Pain, discouragement and disappointment can and often does bring isolation. Then the depression creeps in. When that happens, JOY is covered up and because you don’t “feel happy”, the negative emotions take over.

 

Happiness is a fleeting emotion, while Joy is undeniable faith in an almighty God, who has your best interest at heart. We may not always understand our pain, anguish or why we don’t seem to be reaping the goodness we’ve sowed, but we can claim great joy in the Lord as we walk through the hardships that lay ahead.

I’ve had several people tell me that the only reason I can be actively spreading joy the way I do is because things are good and/or that I’m just looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

When I speak of spreading the joy of the Lord “regardless of circumstances,” I speak from experience. Yes, I’m so blessed! Yes, my needs are met and many of my wants are met as well. Yes, I have a wonderful husband, 2 amazing kids and family that I adore. Yes, I have a job to pay the bills and to give support to Spreading Joy with. But yes…I do know pain, hurt and just how dark negativity can make things.

There have been times that I’ve looked up towards heaven and said “seriously???? Lord?? Really?”

There have been times that I’ve sobbed, not just cried, but poured out my heart to the Lord saying, “again??? Must we endure this again?”

There have been times when grief has so filled my heart with sadness that I simply couldn’t get out of bed.

There have been times when I’ve wondered… “when Lord? When will a positive answer to prayer come”

There are things on my “only GOD” prayer list that I look at and wonder can I muster up a grain of a mustard seed sized portion of faith for those needs.

There have been times that my hearts tells the Lord, “I’m sorry, Lord. I’ve completely failed you and I don’t have the wisdom to take the next step”

And as much as I try not to, there are those times when I whisper in my heart, “why Lord. Why? I simply don’t get it!”

 

But I can firmly stand on the Word of the Lord with Nehemiah 8:10 saying the joy of the LORD is my strength. Am I always happy? No, I’m not. But do I have joy through sorrow? Yes, I do.

So, how do we find the goodness and find joy that gets hidden during these horrid times in our lives?

We look for them, seek them, choose them and keep them.

  1. Look for the good. There is usually something good about each and every day. Trouble is our heart is so discouraged that it shuts its eyes to anything but the negative that surrounds the trouble. Uncover the joy that is waiting to be discovered.
  2. Use praise as a weapon. Being openly grateful about the blessings in our world will drive discouragement away. Don’t get me wrong, it may be a fight between your heart and mind, but it is worth it. Praise the hurt away. Sing until the clouds lift from over your heart.
  3. Laugh. I love laughing and sometimes, I laugh at the most inappropriate time, which tends to end up being funnier for those around me. When your heart is in despair, find your favorite cartoons, your favorite funny shows and watch them.
  4. Saturate your day with the Word of God. Listen to the Bible, read the Bible. Find some online preaching. We should be in God’s word daily anyway, but more so when we don’t “feel like it.”
  5. Pray! Surround yourself with the Comforter Himself. God knows your heart, empty it of the hurt that is filling it up and let God’s joy strengthen you.
  6. Do something for others. Don’t let negative feelings about how small “your something for others is” cloud your heart. Just do it. I’m telling you, and I’ll keep telling you – go and give a box of Little Debbie Cakes away or a pack of Reese’s Cups. The smiles will be unbelievable.
  7. Dig deep into your memory. On the days when the sorrow is so great due to a horrible loss and you are working your way through the pain of that particular event, do something powerful and REMEMBER something good, just for a few moments. I know this kind of day. Even though you have great peace and trust the Lord to carry you through, the pain is so great that you wonder how you’ll function. Use the memories of something awesome to remind your heart that “this too shall pass” and just how amazing God’s grace truly is.

 

This in no way is an exhaustive list, but it is things that I do and turn to time and time again.

I’ve been sending out a message on twitter for a while now. I will send it out almost daily as I know different people will see it at different times. It says

JOY…. Choose it today! Look for it today… Expect it TODAY!

 

In the middle of your discouragement, remember the joy is right there too. Your eyes are closed to it because sometimes it is just easier to see the darkness. But remember, even in the darkest night, all it takes is one flicker and that flicker can be seen for miles.

Uncover the goodness; don’t let it slip by you without you grabbing hold of it.

How do you uncover the goodness and joy that is within your reach?

Will you share some of what gets you through the dark times?

What verse or verses get you through?

Inspire someone by leaving a comment.

 

Marie Wikle the Founder and President of Spreading Joy Corporation wants to empower everyone to make a difference and give without guilt.
Here is a personal Warm Welcome to Spreading Joy. You’ll find links to interviews, no cost ways to make a difference and other things that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your heart.

We want to rise above the discouragement of high prices, the obstacle of dead ends and the disappointment of our comfort zone. We want to be the change that is so desperately needed.

Share Your Faith App

– Ever find it hard to share your faith?

– Felt tongue-tied and unsure of what to say next?

There’s an app for that!

And maybe this app is for you.

Check out this website, How To Share Your Faith, and download the app for your iPhone, iPad, or Android.

As Christ followers we are called to go and disciple those for His kingdom.

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Hope In Emptiness

I love that with the Resurrection there is hope in hopeless situations.

I love that even though it looks like things will end, that the beginning is right there in Christ, A new beginning in Christ. I love that when I feel that all is lost, the SONrise will remind me that the day can be even brighter when I choose to focus on HIM.

I love the joy we have in knowing that the gift of the cross is open and available for anyone who seeks peace that passes all understanding.

As we follow Jesus all the Way, This is my prayer for each of US

Lord, help us not to:

Focus on those that hurt me or use me for their gain. Even when I “thought” they were true friends. (Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you and pray for them which despitefully use you)

Focus on how it looks like I’m not reaping from the goodness I’ve sown, when I’m so very blessed even though it’s not financial.

Focus on the impossibility because I know that with God all things are possible.

Focus on the why’s, the doubts or fears because I know to do so limits the good that I can do for the Lord.

Focus on the pain that engulfs my heart sometimes because in doing so, it blinds me from noticing and helping others that are hurting.

Focus on the famous because when I do, I lose sight of the forgotten ones that you bled and died for.

Focus on being powerful and mighty and just simply remain available for anything that you have for our life.

Focus on our inefficiencies but rather wrap my heart around the fact that I can do all things through Christ because HE strengthens me.

Focus on the past, because it will bog down my future with guilt, shame and keep me from pressing towards the great things God will do through me….right HERE, right NOW.

Lord, do help us to keep our eyes on YOU and to remain hopeful right in the middle of the impossible, because of the Empty Grave.

Remember:

Because of the empty grave, there is hope in emptiness.

Keep your eyes on the Lord. Hopelessness will try to consume you at some point in your life, but look to the empty tomb, and the hope in the Resurrection of Christ and know that He loves you enough to take on death, hell and your fears for you.

Don’t focus on fear or failure. Focus on the Father.

 

Yes, I will

In Christ Alone

 

I will Follow

Marie Wikle the Founder and President of Spreading Joy Corporation wants to empower everyone to make a difference and give without guilt.
Here is a personal Warm Welcome to Spreading Joy. You’ll find links to interviews, no cost ways to make a difference and other things that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your heart.

We want to rise above the discouragement of high prices, the obstacle of dead ends and the disappointment of our comfort zone. We want to be the change that is so desperately needed.

Letting Go

Letting go is one of the most difficult things ever. You know I’m telling the truth here! It doesn’t matter what “it” is, it is hard to let go.

Letting go means you place 100% trust in whomever you are letting things go to. It means that you have confidence in that person to handle things better than you would handle them yourself.

You relinquish all control and you step away, trusting.

Letting go signifies great faith.

We have so much to let go of don’t we? I’ll list just a few that quickly come to mind:

  • Emotional baggage from the past
  • Fear of failure for the future
  • Fear of success
  • Choices we’ve made and the outcome that is sure to follow
  • Our children and their choices
  • Our health, appearance and physical features
  • Our finances, or lack thereof
  • Our dreams, desires and opportunities that await us
  • Our fear of the unknown – the what if’s, why’s and what was I thinking
  • Our yesterday, so we may enjoy today, while looking towards tomorrow

Many think that letting go is a sign of weakness, but in all actuality, it displays great strength and faith.

I want that kind of faith.

I want to easily let go and let God.

As a Christian we are “letting go” of those things to the Lord. Our Savior! Our heavenly Father! The Kind of Kings, Lord of Lords and name like no other.

We aren’t just letting go to some other person that just halfheartedly cares about us – NO, we are letting go to the ONE who gave HIS Son for us as a sacrifice. We are letting go to the ONE that cares for our desires, hopes and dreams like no other. We are letting go to the one who created us and then planned that everything would work out for us as He planned. We are letting go to the ONE who overcame death, hell and has endured anything we could ever endure.

I pray that you’ll confidently let go of whatever it is that weighs you down, knowing that the One you are trusting your eternity to is the ONE you are letting go of your problems, hopes, dreams and fears to.

Let go and Let God!

What do you need to hand over to God? Many people see this site daily and I’m sure they would be encouraged to see that they “are not alone” in handing over a few things.

Encourage someone in the comments below.

(I’ll start out by leaving mine here)

This comes from a dream that I recently had. In the dream our family is struggling with all that we are currently struggling with. I felt extremely small and overwhelmed at the things we faced. The dream was very chaotic and fear ruled my heart. (I won’t bore you with the gory details, but my daughter’s health, the finances that have hit us due to this, my son spending his first summer so far away – completely in God’s will, but still painful as I miss him much more than anyone could ever imagine and several other things)

I was walking and praying as I so often do and somehow ended up on a bridge. I have a horrid fear of heights and this was really, really high. Immediately my fear kicks in and I’m frozen. I can’t think and can barely breathe when the bridge starts to crumble. It’s foggy and I can’t see below. I’m hanging on for my life and I hear, clearly, God saying… “trust me, let go”

I’d love to say that immediately, I just let go, but I can’t.

I did what most of us do and cried out in fear and anguish, “but Lord, I’m scared just get me off here” He again, said…”trust me, let go.”

At that point, with tears flowing, my heart was thinking ok, it seems I don’t have a choice, but I woke up before I let go, so I don’t actually know if I truly trusted God enough to let go.

When I woke up, I had been crying in my sleep….that is just how fearful I had been.

So, today…right here, right now… as best as I know how, I’m letting it all go to Him.

My family – I prayed for a Christian family, HE gave me one…they belong to Him. Lord, just keep using us for YOU.

My finances – with more appointments, specialists, surgery and such looming, there is no way we can ever afford any of it without the Lord. (When the dr. left the room, the first question Megan asked was….Mom, can we afford this? I told her it is a non-issue, that God will provide.) It belongs to Him.

My dream of a larger home – we’ve lived in a tiny 1100 sq ft home since Megan was born. If I get a bigger home, I get one. If not, I’ll enjoy my mansion in Heaven one day.

Spreading Joy & Helping Others – God allowed me to start this and HE will have to fund it. I won’t borrow money to help people. If we help others, it’s because God will put it on the hearts of others to partner with us. We will do what we can with what we have. It’s His.

I’m going to just trust Him. It’s all I can do. It’s all HIS. I’m letting go.

 

{{hugs}}

 

 

 

Never Let Go – David Crowder

 

Never Once – Matt Redman

 

Overcome – Jeremy Camp

John 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

1 John 5:5
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Psalms 55:22
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

 

Marie Wikle the Founder and President of Spreading Joy Corporation wants to empower everyone to make a difference and give without guilt.

Here is a personal Warm Welcome to Spreading Joy. You’ll find links to interviews, no cost ways to make a difference and other things that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your heart.

We want to rise above the discouragement of high prices, the obstacle of dead ends and the disappointment of our comfort zone. We want to be the change that is so desperately needed.

Becoming Animals

It’s interesting living in the culture we do.

In this post-modern culture, or whatever it’s called now,  there is a wholesale abandonment  of belief in God.  At university level the statistics say that 70% or more of Christian kids will abandon their faith and become agnostic or atheist.

The culture at large is moving away from a belief in God as well.  Around us is a culture proud of its ability to function without God.  They even claim to be moral without God (but that discussion is for another day).

What’s the price for these choices? What does it cost a man to turn his back on God?  Or course you might expect me to say it costs him salvation, and that is true, but there is another price that most don’t realize they pay- they lose their role as image bearers.

The bible says we were made in the image of God, but when we deny him, refuse to believe in him, to follow him, we forsake the very thing we were designed to be- image bearers of God.

As a result we often choose to bear the image of the only thing left, the animal world around us.  I think this is why movies like the Twilight series are so popular.  Men and women becoming vampires and werewolves gives them an image to reflect, an identity….the image of animals.  

This comes out as well in a new TV series titled GRIMM.  In this series a police officer is chasing people who look completely normal, but are really animals under the skin.  When we deny our role as image bearers of God we usually imitate what we see around us.

Romans 1 talks of this, but not in exactly the same way I am here.  It’s clear we were designed to reflect God, to bear his image.  When we refuse our identity we will reflect something, what will that be?

Some wonder why the world around us is becoming so violent, why anger, killing, and war seems to be growing.  In part it’s because we have decided to abandon our calling as image bearers of God and the results are what we see in our world today…men acting like animals.

When you turn your back on God you lose much more than you would imagine.  You lose the God who made you, you lose the promise of life, you lose peace (that’s another post as well) and you lose sight of what you were designed to be, you lose your identity.

The price is much higher than we even know, but when we deny God we also deny being made in his image and choose a lower image. We choose to become men without souls, without a purpose, without a moral compass, without hope.  We become animals.

 

Visit Mike at FinishingWell.
 
 

Why Jeff Bethke Hates Religion…

In Jeff’s words, his inspiration for this viral video came from a poem he wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion.

“In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it’s core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can’t do your own list of rules and feel “not good enough” for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don’t represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God the Father.”

Watch this awesome video in light of God’s desire for His commands to come first before our own traditions as declared in Mark 7:6-7

 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

Visit Jeff Bethke at his website.

Also check out the book that inspired the video, The Prodigal God.

Never Alone

My heart is amazed at just how big this world is and how technology can keep us in touch with those who have moved away from us.  But sometimes, my heart is even more amazed at just how alone we can feel even though people are close to us physically as well as through technology. 

We often feel alone when:

  • The pain in the night is unbearable
  • The silence is deafening
  • Friends should rejoice with us but are envious
  • Family squabbles become bitter feuds
  • The darkness engulfs us
  • The well deserved promotion is shot down by assumptions
  • No one understands
  • Everyone says they understand but act as if they could care less
  • We’ve tried a million times but continue to feel like a failure
  • We’ve asked for forgiveness but there is no hope of receiving it
  • Good news is overshadowed by great hurt

You’ve probably been there and felt as if your prayers were going no further than the ceiling.  Let me remind you that not only does your Heavenly Father hear those cries, they matter to Him.  He hears you and cares about what your heart is feeling.

The time you feel completely alone is when you typically withdraw and close your heart off to the world.  Worse than that, you close your Bible and think; I don’t even know what to pray, so why bother and you let isolation MOVE YOU from your Father’s side.

God never moves from us.  We move from Him.  But, even when we stray, move or completely ignore Him…we are never alone.

What verses do you wrap yourself in when you feel completely alone?

Please leave them below and encourage those that are feeling completely alone.

 

I Know You’re There

2 Chronicles 13:12
And, behold, God himself is with us 

2 Chronicles 32:8
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.

 

 

You’re Not alone

 

 

Deut 31:6  Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

 

God With Us

 

 

Lamentations 3:24-25 

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

 

Desperate Days

My soft-hearted receptionist came back to tell me there was a lady in real need in our reception area and she didn’t want to just send her away empty handed.

I met with Nancy.  It’s hard to know how best to help at times. Is this person just begging for a living or is this a real need?  It’s sad, but I have to deal with these questions and make difficult choices at times.

Nancy had a very sad story.  No place to live, no money, mental illness and a 16 year old daughter. The only way I can imagine it worse is if she had cancer!  She was desperate for help of some kind.  This is happening more often than we want to admit.  These are desperate days.

In case you’re wondering, yes I helped Nancy and her daughter.  It’s what we do as Christ followers, isn’t it?  It’s why people come to us for help because they know that Christians are supposed to help and we are, we should, we must.  In desperate times like these there is nothing more important than showing the love God extends us by extending it to others.

This spirit of caring comes because God has cared for us.  It’s a response to God’s love for us that makes us reach out to others.  Some are selling their homes, moving into smaller homes and using the extra money to help others.  Others are looking for different ways to help those in need. The love of Christ is motivating them to share what God has given them with those in need.

This is how Jesus fed the multitudes.  He gave the bread and fish to the disciples who then gave it to the crowds.  He made them “middle men” for his provision.  He does the same with us in our day.  We are his “middle men and women” sharing what God has given us with those in need, both spiritually and physically.  
In desperate days like these the love of Christ in us is revealed most clearly as we help those who have nowhere else to go.  The love of God moves us to action just as it did God when he gave to us,  “For God so loved the world he gave….”

Giving out of love is the very nature of our Father.  As his children we have this same heart, a heart of love that gives.  Pray for an opportunity to share the love of God with those in need around you.   Desperate days give us opportunities to show how glorious the love of God is for those in need of both food and faith.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Remembering 9/11

Cross Amidst the Ruins

On an early September morning;
Hatred reared it’s ugly head.
Terrorism struck Manhattan;
It’s wake left thousands dead!

It truly was a miracle …
How many lives were saved.
Over-shadowed by the horror;
Of the war-like rubbled grave!

Time seemed frozen, hope was lost;
For loved ones left behind.
Trying to hold onto their faith,
Praying, “God give us a sign!”

Uncovered from the wreckage;
A sight that seemed unreal.
A cross that stood ’bout twenty feet …
From twisted beams of steel!   

© Marge Batzer

 

 

 

 

 

Giants

 

Guys are huge! Huge! Especially if you are a little girl, you look up and see a mighty man towering over you, your heart trembles a little. Men are giants in the eyes of children

I remember as a little, tiny girl being afraid of those towering giants in my life. There were only two giant men that I took to early on without fear and they were my Father and Grandfather.

While I understand that not every man is full of care, compassion and concern for the women and children in his world and those that are quietly observing, (make no mistake, they are observing and retaining what they observe) I also understand that there are men that want to be a force for good in this world.

I applaud you and want to encourage you to continue to be a Giant!

Here are some ways we can all be Giants, but Men, please…. Continue to stand up and be HUGE!

Giant of Compassion – Men in particular usually have a hard time comfortably displaying their emotions and showing compassion isn’t always the easiest. I know that kindness is there, filling your heart…let it flow freely.

Giant of Love – Continue to love and allow yourself to be loved – even when love hurts.

Giant of Giving – Giving of what you have doesn’t always come naturally, but we can condition our hearts to be a giant in this area. Don’t focus on what you are giving, or to whom. Just give what you can and show others that there is nothing like it.

Giant of Laughter – With the weight of the responsibilities that you bare, sometimes it is just good to sit back and do fun things. Laugh daily and share freely.

Giant of Family – YOU head up the family, you are responsible, you direct, guide and shelter. Be there, be part of what goes on, share your heart with those in your family freely. Be authentic and in doing so, you will raise up giants of your own.

Giant of a Husband – Men if you are married, the best thing you can do is to continue to date and spoil your wife. Find out, if you’ve forgotten, what little things she adores and spoil her with them. Yes, we ladies need to do the same thing, but we gals are creatures of response and she will react. But, honestly…don’t do this just to “get” something in return….do this because you are a giant and are willing to do it because it is the right thing to do.

Giant of a Friend – Men, go and do some men stuff. Encourage each other and have fun. Take time to be a friend.

Giant of an Example – There are little eyes watching you and you won’t even realize it. You will cause someone, somewhere to remember something that you did…something you considered insignificant and yet, in that moment it was larger than life to the onlooker. You are always inspiring someone and being an influence. The question is, are you inspiring great things or are you inspiring a lackadaisical attitude?

Giant of Wisdom – You have experiences that no one else around you has. You can share what you’ve learned and those around you that are truly wise will learn from you. Share freely.

 

Lastly guys, remember, you are completely loved and adored by someone.

YOU ARE a giant in their eyes. Treasure that, protect that and use it.

Gals – you can be a giant to! I hope you will be.

Your turn! How can we be giants to those little eyes that are watching everything we say and do? Don’t miss your opportunity to be heard here.

 

Dear Dad, you are already a HERO, just because you are a dad… be the best influence you can be without guilt

Dear Dad, I know you are busy with work &providing for the family, but provide memories too

Dear Dad, I know we are all special BUT never, ever forget that you are loved & adored

Dear Dad, even when I think I know it ALL, YOU still be the parent. I’m too young to make big decisions.

Dear Dad, laughter is the best medicine, but never forget tears are healing

Dear Dad, Even though guys are macho, we still need to hear “i love you”

Dear Dad, I know you want to give me the best of everything, but make me be responsible for what you give me

Dear Dad, we love big squishy bear hugs

Dear Dad, help me to own my mistakes, don’t enable me or excuse my actions

Dear Dad, I love you

 

 

Visit Marie at SpreadingJoy.

Boxes

I hate to admit it, but I live in a box.  It’s a box created for me by others, by business, family, friends and the world around me. But the really sad truth is that I willingly climbed in the box and taped the lid shut…never asking if it was a box I should be in at all, never thinking about the implications of such a box in my life.  Like everyone around me I was given a box by someone somewhere and willingly made it my own and even wrote my name on it!  It became part of my identity.

Like children playing, making cars, houses and forts out of boxes we adults build invisible boxes for one another.  Boxes of expectation, roles, position, and a hundred other words to describe the box we have come to call our identity, or role, our “place”.  We never stop to think about what that box means, how it might affect us and our choices or the way we think. Our box limits our choices, restricts our vision, and frustrates our gifts.

This morning I had coffee with a good friend who told me I was living in a box.  He didn’t know where I got it, but he described it well.  As he listened to me he made me aware  of how restricted my vision had become because of the box I had accepted many years ago.  It was humbling to realize I had been given a box and had never questioned its role in my life.  Was it right? Should I get into it? Is this the way I should live?  Is this how I should think?

Without any questions I took the boxes handed me and made them my own. They have limited me, identified me, and restricted God’s work in my life.  How did I ever let this happen? Why did I believe this box was what I needed to identify me?

Children love boxes.  They aren’t so much fun when they define your life, your thinking or your values as an adult.  I can’t believe that I let this happen….happy to look out the hole I had cut in my box and survey the world around me….trying to make boxes like mine for others….only to find I had made prisoners of us all.

I’m taking a different tack today as I look at my thoughts and my life.  I’ve decided it’s time to be done with the boxes of childhood and walk in the freedom of the grace that Christ has provided.

Read Romans 8 as you look at your own life. What boxes have you made your own?  How have you missed God’s grace by accepting the boxes others have given you?

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

He Knows The Hairs On Our Head

Below is an amazing video by Yale scientist, Alexander Tsiaras, who is part artist, part technologist whose work explores the unseen human body, developing scientific visualization software to enable him to “paint” the human anatomy.

In his own words, “Even though I am a mathematician, I look at [fetal development] with marvel: How do these instruction sets not make mistakes as they build what is us?” and “The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go — the complexity of these mathematical models is beyond human comprehension.”

But we, as Christians, know that answer to that marvel! We know that it is our God, Creator all who is at the center of all this complexity, all that is ‘beyond human comprehension’. Just makes me smile!! 🙂

Contemplate on Psalm 139:13-16 as you watch this amazing video!

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered! Do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~Luke 12:7

No Simple Lives

One thing I’ve noticed about people is that things are never simple. I think it’s because we are not simple. Our lives are made up of hundreds of nicks and bruises we have each experienced. All those blows, bad relationships, disappointments and life experiences make us who we are and it’s never simple to sort out.

A few weeks ago, as I listened to a couple working through some real problems in their marriage, I thought….”this is really complicated. There are no easy answers.” Honestly, I think that same thing almost every time I talk with someone. It’s difficult to sort out all the pieces of our lives that have brought us to where we are today. How do we get it all tied together so we aren’t tripping over ourselves? How do we work through all that we are to fix what we have become? Honestly, there are no simple lives. There are no simple answers.

But as I watch Jesus in the gospels I see his encounters with people in a different way. The difference is that he knew the heart of man and was able to go to the very heart of each person’s problem. With a word, a touch, a smile Jesus healed broken lives. He knew what each life needed.

Here is a story of one man’s encounter with Jesus. In this brief encounter Jesus meets the needs of this broken man,

Mark 1:40-45- 40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (If you are willing. It’s almost a question, Are you willing? Not can you help me? but will you help me? The most important question is this one, Lord, will you help me?)41Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” (The compassion of Jesus brought a response that I’m sure no one expected. In fact this leper was in front of Jesus contrary to the law that would keep him apart from others who didn’t have leprosy.42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44“See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”45Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

This story is one of my favorites in the gospels. It’s a story of the prayer we have all prayed, “if you are willing.” We wait, hoping God is indeed willing to meet our needs, but he does so much more. This man had been without a human touch, without real love and without acceptance for so long that his first need, in spite of his obvious illness, was a touch. In that amazing moment of time Jesus did the unthinkable….he reached out and touched this dirty, diseased man. The touch did so much more than heal the disease, it healed the whole man.

Like this poor leper in Mark we each come to Jesus with all our sickness and disease visible for all to see…the bible calls it sin. Our plea is simple, if you’re willing you can make me clean, you can forgive my sins. And with a touch…that amazing touch….we each find healing and forgiveness.

As a result of that touch and the love of Jesus to meet this man’s needs a great exchange happened. It happens with us when we trust him. Some call it the exchanged life and indeed it is. But with this man the exchange was dramatic. The man who had lived alone and removed from mankind was now among them. Talking, touching, hugging and telling everyone about Jesus to such an extent that Jesus had to go to the wilderness away from mankind and even there the people, all in need of his touch, sought him out.

Mankind is still asking this man’s simple question, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” And his response is the same, with a touch of his hand he replies, “I’m willing, be clean.” And so, with all our warts and wrinkles, all our problems and struggles Jesus comes to touch the hurting and heal each one. If you’re wondering if he can fix your messy life just ask him. You’ll be amazed at the smile, the touch, the acceptance and the reply, “I’m willing, be clean.”

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

War Of The Worlds

We are in a war, but it’s not the war we are trying to fight.

It’s not a war between Republicans and Democrats.

It’s not a war between conservatives and liberals.

It’s not a war between Christians and Muslims.

It’s not a war between gay and straight.

It’s not a war between “us” and “them”.

These are the wars we are fighting in the Christian world I live in, but they are the wrong wars, the wrong battlefields, attacks against the wrong enemies.

We are taking blows at symptoms, not at the real enemies.  We find ourselves boxing shadows and completely missing the real enemies among us.  It is a war of the worlds, but not the one we fight now.  Here’s the real battlefield, here’s the real enemy,

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  -Ephesians 6

I’m sure our real enemies are thrilled with the shadow boxing we are doing….swinging at what is not the real enemy at all…and all the while our unseen enemy continues the fight.

The real battlefield is spiritual.

The real enemy is the devil and his angels.

The real war is fought in prayer and with love for others.

The Christian world I live in has chosen to fight the wrong war, focus on what is not the enemy,  oppose what isn’t the real problem at all….and all the while the real enemy prospers and smiles at our foolishness.  He has masterfully misdirected our attention at the wrong things. We are in a war of the worlds….I pray we realize who the real enemy is and focus our attacks in the right way, with the right weapons at the real enemy.

Our battle in never with people, let me repeat that….our battle is never with people…it’s always spiritual and with an enemy unseen.   

If the enemy can get us to focus our attention on the wrong battle, the wrong enemy, the wrong battlefield all the better for him.

In this war of the worlds I pray we see what the real war is about, who the real enemy really is and how we are to respond.  The real war is for the souls of men, the real enemy is the devil, and the proper response for us is love and prayer.  Those are the “weapons” that will change the culture around us and deal a death blow to the enemy’s plans.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

A Messy Life And A Heart For God

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Ch.16.9

What does this look like in real life?  Does it mean we never sin, never get angry, never say the wrong thing or stumble in our walk?  What does it mean when the Lord talks of looking for hearts fully committed to him?

I read this verse and am convinced he can’t be talking about me.  The desire is there to be fully committed, but my life tells a different story.  My life is messy, smelly at times with sin, I get frustrated, say the wrong things….frankly this verse can’t be talking about someone like me….but then I realize that he’s looking at the heart.

If God just looked at my life he would pass by without a second glance.  I’m a mess.  There is nothing of the material saints are made of in my life, nothing that would tell you  I’m a godly man, very little of a holy life for others to see and evaluate.

In fact, if I were under close scrutiny to evaluate my life and determine if I were a Christian I think I would fail the test.  Fruit rejected.  Life a waste.  Failure.

But then I reread these words…God is looking for hearts fully committed.  I so want to be that person, that fully committed one.  Can my heart be fully committed and my life an utter mess?  If God is looking for fruit, I fail.  If he’s looking for a heart that wants to please him no one wants that more than I.

How do I reconcile this paradox?  How do I bring together a heart that wants God with all that is in me and a life that wanders, choices that are messy, a life that doesn’t look much different than the world around me at times?

I don’t know.  I only know this…when his eyes pass my way he will see a messy life, but a heart that truly wants to be fully committed to him.  In the mess of all of this all I can do is trust him to help me follow my heart’s passion for him.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.